Several of McNeill's relatives were present in the courtroom Thursday. When the judge made his decision, they burst into applause.
McNeill's brother, Robert McNeill, says this incident is making him rethink his stance against the death penalty.
"I didn't at first believe in the death penalty," said McNeill. "Now that it has hit home, I'm looking at it from a different perspective."
Nathaniel Fair continues to proclaim his innocence. He is charged with the murder of Wake County principal Reubin McNeill. Fair told reporters he knew McNeill, but denies any involvement in his death.
Fair said he knew McNeill, but wouldn't elaborate on his relationship with McNeill. Police say they think the two men had a chance meeting at a gas station.
The victim's sister, Patricia Hargrove, says she doesn't believe anything Fair says.
"He's trying to say anything to make himself look good," said Hargrove.
A reporter told Hargrove this would be a death penalty case, to which she replied, "I'm thankful for that. Thank God for that."
"I did not kill anyone," said Fair. "And for those who think that I did, I'm innocent until proven guilty, because I've already done time in prison before. I've done a life sentence. I've come a long way, and it's going to be very hard for me to prove my innocence to the predominantly white sector."
One reporter asked Fair why he didn't turn himself in if he was innocent.
"I was afraid," Fair responded.
When asked what he had to say to McNeill's family, Fair said, "I'm sorry. I hope they do find the person that killed Mr. McNeill. I did know Mr. McNeill, but that's another story. He's not, what they say, a boyfriend of mine, but you take it from there."
WRAL's Mark Roberts called Robert McNeill, and told him what Fair had said. Robert McNeill said Fair is lying and is way off base. He said the racial comment about a predominantly white society makes no sense to him. He calls this a simple black-on-black crime.
Robert McNeill went on to say that the 'boyfriend' reference is totally confusing, and that, if Fair is innocent, what was he doing with Reubin McNeill's glasses and drivers license.
Investigators say Fair had assumed McNeill's identity, using his identification and credit cards, even wearing his glasses.
Police say he rented a Cadillac under McNeill's name in Greensboro on Wednesday. They believe he drove to Durham to buy drugs. Fair says he was afraid to turn himself in to police because he already has a criminal record. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 in South Carolina for kidnapping, burglary, assault with intent to kill and rape. He was paroled in 1993.
Police are still looking for the rented 1998 Cadillac Catera that Fair leased from the Piedmont-Triad Airport three days ago. They say find that car will help them solve this crime.
"We've got a lot of investigators who have not seen home in quite a few days, and it would be nice to send them home for a few days rest," Lt. Don Overman explained.
Fair is charged with first-degree murder and robbery. Warrants for his arrest have also been issued on charges of kidnapping and credit card fraud. Police say they'll let the District Attorney's office decide whether to pursue those charges.
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